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The New Douglas Adams Has arrived and He's Discovered the Real Meaning of Life

That book is Eskine Quint, Intrepid Adventurer Extraordinaire, and it is the story of the hunt for the source of all human madness, and of course, the Holy Grail. It is a pythonesque extravaganza of humour that starts in the Himalayas in India where Eskine and his faithful companion Kimjabi begin their quest by climbing Mount Everest.

Many years ago when I was a student I was introduced to the works of Douglas Adams, and it was very shortly after that that I went with him on a tour of the universe. He told me the meaning of life was 42 and I spent many evenings coming back from a magical Geordie college by the sea on the Metro reading about the exploits of Ford Prefect.

I became aware of many things through my literary travels with Adams. I learned that Yellow was a colour to start an adventure with, and that Androids are paranoid. I learned that there is a restaurant at the end of the Universe and that the last thing the Dolphins said before the world came to an end was "Goodbye and thanks for all the fish".

I had a friend called Nicola and she told me that there would never be another writer as good as Adams. She also added that Adams' ability to take the reader on an adventure could never be matched by another human being because he was a genius. And even though many people came close, those words held true for twenty years. Pratchett came very close, but it wasn't until this September that I came across a book that contained the same level of adventure, insanity and hilarity and I wished I still knew Nicola so I could phone her up and say. "You have to read this book. Its a bit like Douglas Adams...only better"

That book is Eskine Quint, Intrepid Adventurer Extraordinaire, and it is the story of the hunt for the source of all human madness, and of course, the Holy Grail. It is a pythonesque extravaganza of humour that starts in the Himalayas in India where Eskine and his faithful companion Kimjabi begin their quest by climbing Mount Everest. They then cause chaos in Paris, London and Rome. Then the adventure takes to the air and Erskine and Kimjabi go sailing across the Atlantic on a magical air balloon ride, whilst being pursued all the way by "a dark, dastardly cad, called Percival Smithers Bat-ears, Anthropologist Supreme."

Both Erskine and Bat-ears are following an ancient path of clues hidden within the darkest places in history where madness has done its worst damage. At some points this madness leads the reader to ponder on the saddest events in history and it makes you believe that yes the world really is mad. But as soon as the poignancy comes it is gone, because the pace of the story is so fast the writer leaves you with no time for tears. He replaces them with more fantastic one liners and an excellent slightly rude joke or two,

Erskine is an adventurer who enjoys his comforts, however and he is never without a new flash car or the company of a glamorous lady of the night. Unlike Smithers-Bat-ears who only has the one love, Volga Olga, a leading lady with a very big difference.

And that's just the beginning of the story. The story then goes on to reveal the meaning of the whole world, and the secret relationship between God and the Devil. And all this makes it just as good as Adams. The only problem I can see with this book is that L R Johnson has only written the one book. And after reading Ersquine Quint, I really wanted to go out and buy another one. But there isn't one. He's unique, and we'll all just have to wait until he writes the next one.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to go to the old bank street book shop in my town to see if they've got any old copies of the Hitchhiker's guide. I think its time for a re-read. Thank God for Douglas Adams...and of course L R Johnson.

Erskine Quint is available on Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Erskine-Quint-Mr-L-Johnson/dp/1478226277